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Age of Empires 2 Knight Rush Build Order – How To Beat Extreme AI
Follow this Age of Empires 2 Knight Rush build order to help you beat extreme AI in the AoE2 Definitive Edition or give you a foundation for your multiplayer games against other players. The AoE2 Knight rush is a popular strategy given the Castle Age power of the Knight unit that can easily defeat other units while outrunning their main Pikeman counter with some micromanagement from players. By rushing quickly to get a handful of Knights on the battlefield players can harass their opponent and deny them key resources to also advance to the Castle Age which can quickly cascade to a victory.
While you won’t be able to win every match with this strategy the Knight Rush is often one of the first strategies that players learn given its flexibility across 1v1 games against other players, team games (when in the right position) and for AI matches against the harder difficulty settings. The central mechanic of reaching Castle Age quickly that you’ll learn with this strategy is also important to a number of other AoE2 strategies that also make it an ideal initial build order to learn.
With this simple to follow build order you’ll learn how to Knight Rush in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition and is setup to ensure it does not require significant game skill or speed to utilise effectively to beat the Extreme AI. While there are some tweaks you can make when you become an advanced player to improve this strategy further and you’ll need to adjust it to game specifics in multiplayer it’s intended to give your initial base of game knowledge. The video below demonstrates this with a victory against the extreme AI using the Knight rush build order tactic described here with plenty of room for improvement.
What Is The Knight Rush Build Order
The Knight Rush is one of many Age of Empires build orders that provide players a set of steps to follow and provide the necessary structure to efficiently progress from game start to victory screen. While you will need to adjust this slightly for the randomisation of the map and your enemy actions your goal is focused on progressing to Castle Age quickly and accumulating an army of powerful Knight units from the stable. This requires players to quickly and efficiently acquire the necessary food, wood and gold to advance to Castle Age while avoiding taking significant losses from enemy raids and minimising the investment of resources to defend against enemy raids.
Similar to other games like Age of Empires the concept of this strategy is to quickly overwhelm your enemy with a devastating unit before your enemy can acquire their own. This gives players the option to win outright or cripple the enemy economy where it is near impossible for your opponent to recovery as you boom your economy in the background.
Best Knight Civilisations in Age of Empires 2
In order to be successful in a Knight Rush players will want to use the best Age of Empires 2 civilisation for the task as some have civilisation bonuses that improve the ease or effectiveness of this strategy. While all civilisations that have the Knight available are capable of performing a Knight Rush some are significantly better due to either their Knight specific bonuses, general cavalry bonuses or early economic bonuses that help propel you into Castle Age. There are also some civilisations that are better able to recover from a failed Knight Rush or transition into the late game stages as well if you fail and need to alter your strategy.
I recommended trying several of the civilisations below to find the one that best suits your playstyle and strengths with this list presented in approximate power level.
The Franks are a powerful and popular civilisation for a Knight focused strategy although this popularity does mean experienced players will be aware of your intended strategy in multiplayer. The Franks Knight rush build order is still highly effective though given the bonuses this civilisation has to execute on this strategy with boosts to economic progression and the Knight unit itself that make a deadly combination.
This makes the Franks one of my favourite options as a cavalry civilisation and particularly against the AI where the bonuses of this civilisation are highly effective. This includes the benefit of additional line of sight on your Knights to scout enemy bases easily and the additional durability on them that makes it a little more forgiving than other civilisation options in Age of Empires 2. Supporting this are the economy bonuses that give you the necessary foundation to progress with farm upgrades and faster foragers keeping you ahead or on par with your opponent without the need for perfect micromanagement of your villagers.
If your initial attack wave of Knights fails the Franks do have some backup options like cheap castles and a well rounded technology tree to adjust to most situations although they don’t excel in a particular area which means you might find yourself outclassed.
If you want to simplify your build orders in any Age of Empires 2 strategy the Huns are the perfect civilisation as they don’t have to build houses to support their units. This makes them forgiving compared to other civilisation options if you forget to build houses at the right stages and allows you to focus towards maximising your resource gathering efforts instead. This also has the benefit of saving you of wood throughout the game and particularly the early game which speeds up your ability to reach Castle Age similar to other economic bonuses that civilisations have.
Combined with a team bonus to stable production speed you’ll be able to produce Knights and acquire their upgrades from the stable at a faster rate that makes your potential Knight rush stronger and they have a few potential transitions to go beyond this if necessary.
Offering a solid civilisation in their own right the Persians have town centres that have extra health and work faster that propels your progress throughout the game and something that can be utilised in a Knight rush build order as well. As if that wasn’t enough they have a food and wood starting bonus that can make any build order easier to complete as a small mistake won’t throw of your progression entirely as it might when playing another civilisation. Persian Knights specifically also benefit from the team bonus that gives extra attack against Archers which can help you counter an early Archer strategy from your opponent when the need arises.
The Persian economic powerhouse is absolutely a civilisation you should consider although keep in mind their technology tree is cavalry heavy with their unique unit also being a cavalry unit so it can feel like an all in strategy at times. The Persian civilisation does have decent archer options as a backup and your town centre bonus can generally fund this switch of strategy if required.
Another strong civilisation for following a Knight Rush build order based strategy to victory the Berbers offer players some economic benefits which can reduce how punishing mistakes can be. This comes in the form of faster moving villagers that can offset idle time or poor pathing decisions while also helping you avoid early raids by moving them towards the safety of your town centre as necessary.
Berber stable units also receive a cost discount that will allow you to acquire an extra Knight or two during your initial raids that might just be the difference you need for success. Given their navy focus though they miss out on some key land technology such as Halberdier, Arbalester and Paladin that make the game time after the Knight rush difficult especially when there is no water to fight over and utilise that aspect of their technology advantage.
The Teutons are a capable Knight Rush civilisation that if unsuccessful can quickly transition to their infantry and defensive strength that give them a few more fall back options than most listed here. That isn’t to say they aren’t capable of a Knight Rush though with their stable units having increased armour from the Castle Age that make them durable fighters if you aren’t proficient at raiding yet. Their team bonus of conversion resistance also comes in handy given this is a key weakness of Knights although you should be aiming o rush opponents before this counter is a significant threat to your units.
The Teutons also have cheap farms that improve your ability to acquire food in the early game and results in less villagers overall acquiring wood to keep up with early game farm demands. To be effective with Teutons as you progress though you’ll need to utilise their other available units and the lack Husbandry technology does make their Knights slow like the rest of their core military options.
AOE2 Knight Rush Build Order (Summary)
This summary of the build order is designed for players that are already familiar with the details or want a reference for themselves while playing. These steps should be used as a guide only and will need to be adjusted for the specific game at hand. For full step by step instructions on performing a Knight rush build order refer to the bottom of this page.
- Build two houses with two villagers while using your other villager and scouting unit to find your starting herdable animals (e.g. sheep)
- Place 6 villagers on her herdable animals
- 4 villagers on wood (and build lumber camp, 12th villager builds a house
- 5 villagers on berries
- Collect your boars with villages previously on herdable animals. After boars and herdables move to farms
- 3 villagers on gold and acquire Loom if required
- Another 6 villagers on wood (subsequent villagers balance food, gold or wood as required)
- Advance to Feudal Age
- Build Barracks while advancing
- After advance build Stable and Blacksmith (Castle Age requirements met)
- Advance to Castle Age
- Build second Stable while advancing
- Create 4-6 knights, obtain available Knight technology and attack
AOE2 Knight Rush Build Order (Step by Step)
This detailed step by step build order of the Knight rush provides a foundation to take players from the Dark Age to Castle Age and create their initial fighting force of Knights to enter the enemy base to raid it for villagers and block resource gathering. These steps should be followed in order as outlined although some minor adjustments based on the map, enemy activity and ability to locate resources will be required. It includes some basic guidance on hotkeys and other tips to help beginners improve their speed and consistency. During this entire process you should always be producing villagers and your town centre should not sit idle.
- At the start of the game immediately select your town centre (H) and queue up villagers (Q), hotkey use is recommended for this step given this is an easy to remember hotkey process and starts you producing villagers as soon as possible.
- Select two villagers to build an initial two houses, if done fast enough this ensures you can continue to build villagers without a pause due to reaching population cap. Using hotkeys is recommended for this step (full stop or mouse to select villagers then A > Q to build a house). If playing Huns you can skip this step and other housing related steps.
- Send the remaining villager to your town centre to prepare for herdable animal collection (e.g. sheep) which you can claim with your Scout unit and send them to the town centre. Herdable units should then be set as the rally point for new villagers to automatically send them to food production and save time on future villager creation.
- Send the Scout to explore in a circular pattern around your base to identify nearby resources (wood, berries, gold, other herdable animals and boars are your priority). Note that advanced players will use their herdable animals to scout smaller areas during this time rather than sending them straight to the town centre but this is not required to beat Extreme AI.
- Continue to create villagers to farm herdable animals until you have a minimum of 6 villagers which is enough to sustain villager creation. Note that 7 villagers is a safer but slightly slower option that can be a good choice to begin with when practicing as it provides enough food to be able to queue up several villagers to prevent potential idle town centre time. Utilising 7 villagers can also make obtaining your boar or equivalent easier, particularly without researching Loom.
- When you have 6 or 7 on sheep proceed to build a lumber camp and assign the next 4 villagers to gather wood to fund your future houses and buildings. Your 12th villager should build a house to prevent you from being population capped and for efficiency you can build this next to the lumber camp or you can use it to provide a wall between you and your enemies location. From here onwards always build a new house when you are at most 3 under your max population and you can build multiple houses at once to simplify the build order.
- You should now be able to build a mill next to your berries to ramp up food production and fill the gaps in time while hunting boars. This can be either the the same villager that built the house or the next villager that comes from your town centre depending on map layout and your villager positions.
- Send the next 5 villagers to berries, similar to herdable you can send slightly more (6 or 7) to allow you to queue more villagers to make the build order easier but does lose some efficiency.
- Villagers created after this point should be placed on acquiring wood for the time being to build your wood stockpiles for additional farms, houses, mining camp and Feudal Age buildings. This is a good default option as wood has many uses and you can grab villagers from wood as necessary for other tasks as needed.
- When your villagers finish acquiring all the herdable units from your town centre move them to farming the two boars or equivalents by dragging and killing it under your town centre. This boosts resource acquisition and is also safer from any early raids given the protection it provides. Note that if your boars are far away Loom can help reduce any damage your villagers take and may be required depending on map layout. Advanced build orders will prioritise boars earlier for the large food they provide and to protect them against advanced players, this is not necessary for this basic Knight Rush build order but is a tactic you should work towards for PvP gameplay.
- When your villagers finish acquiring the boars or equivalents move them to farm creation around your town centre. Any hurt villagers from the boars should have farms closest to your town centre and ideally away from your enemy base to give them as much protection as possible.
- When your villagers finish acquiring berries move them to farms that you have enough wood for to create with any leftover being sent to build a mining camp and acquire gold or to harvest wood.
- Have at least 3 villagers acquiring gold (4 or 5 if you want to research Loom due to fear of enemy raids or already have researched it for boars).
- Advance to the Feudal Age when you have the 500 food necessary, a good goal is to aim for somewhere between 24-26 villagers. This is a balance between not advancing with too few villagers that you cannot acquire sufficient resources and obtaining Feudal Age in a good time to stay on track to the fast Castle Age required.
- Build your Barracks just before or while upgrading to the Feudal Age, this can serve as a good wall building for enemies (particularly AI). This is also a good point to assess the balance of your villagers as food and gold needs to be prioritise to advance further and build a healthy force of Knights with upgrades. Wood cannot be ignored though as you have some expensive buildings to construct soon and wood is required to keep your farms generating food.
- After you advance to Feudal Age proceed to build a Stable and a Blacksmith, these will serve as the necessary buildings required to advance to the Castle Age. You will want a second Stable when appropriate and before you starting creating Knight units but prioritise a Blacksmith over a second stable first to ensure you meet the advancement requirements.
- Your goal after advancing to Feudal is advance to Castle Age as soon as you have the necessary resources and buildings and not research any technology in between. Create one villager at a time until you have the 800 food necessary and click advance to Castle Age.
- Once in Castle Age build up your Knights to at least 4 and go attack your enemy focusing on their resources of wood and gold as these are often open to attack and hurt progression. If your raiding is going well you can start layering Knight specific upgrades to push your advantage along with some economic technologies based on your civilisation technology tree.